Weatherford Democrat

Local News

September 26, 2012

Hotel tax hot topic at city budget meeting

WEATHERFORD — Questions on how the city distributes its hotel occupancy tax funds were the highlight of Tuesday night’s Weatherford city council meeting.

Marilyn Carter with the Texas Opry brought up the subject as the council was getting ready to approve the Fiscal Year 2012-13 budget. She asked why the Weatherford Chamber of Commerce had all of its $121,000 funds approved while both the Opry and Theater Off the Square received no funding whatsoever for the third straight year.

Carter said the chamber has multiple sources of income, including its membership dues and chamber-sponsored events. Carter said the only funds the Opry and TOTS receive comes from ticket sales to monthly events.

Carter says the city needs to do a better job of dispersing funds as the Texas Opry, TOTS and the Doss Heritage and Culture Center “put more heads in beds year round than the chamber does for its one or two events a year.”

Carter accused the chamber of showing bias when it comes to recommending space for meetings and events, saying the chamber only recommends the Doss Center and Weatherford ISD facilities while the Opry is able to seat 475 people. Carter says she has asked the chamber numerous questions as to what is going on and has been “stonewalled” every time.

“We used to be chamber members but the only time we ever heard from them is when it was time to renew (our membership),” Carter said. “They wouldn’t know how to get in the doorway.”

She said most of the people who attend Opry events are from out of town and use the city’s hotels and restaurants.

“All our expenses come out of pocket,” Carter said. “We get nothing back from the city.”

She suggested forming a nonpartisan committee to decide how to distribute the funds.

The council did unanimously approve the upcoming budget, which takes effect Oct. 1. The council also approved a tax rate of 46.36 cents per $100 valuation, the same as last year.

The tax rate, according to a staff report, is scheduled to bring in an additional $198,773 over last year’s budget. Of that, $96,381 is new property added to his year’s tax roll. The amount also reflects an increase in the expected collection rate from 96.75 to 97.5 percent, based on the collections of previous years.

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